Latin America & Caribbean

Venezuela reopens Colombian border to allow shoppers to cross

Venezuelans cross the Simon Bolivar bridge linking San Antonio del Tachira, in Venezuela with Cucuta, Colombia, to buy basic supplies on 16 July 2016. Image copyright AFP
Image caption Colombia's foreign ministry says the border opening took place "in an orderly manner and under conditions of security"

Venezuela has opened its border with Colombia for the second time this month to allow people to cross over to shop for basic foods and medicines.

Last week 35,000 crossed over for the first time since the border was closed a year ago by President Nicolas Maduro to fight cross-border crime.

Officials said at least 100,000 entered Colombia over the weekend.

Many basic goods are in short supply in Venezuela because of a severe economic crisis in the country.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Rain did not prevent 100,000 people from doing their shopping in Colombia during the border opening
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Tens of thousands of Venezuelans queued to cross the bridge into Colombia, and again on their return
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Saturday provided a rare opportunity to stock up on food, medicine and basic staples

The border across a pedestrian bridge connecting Tachira in Venezuela and Cucuta in Colombia opened on Saturday, a day earlier than authorities from both countries had previously announced.

Officials said they wanted to avoid the build-up of too many people.

It stayed open into Sunday.

Venezuelans cross border

Growing discontent on the streets

Women push past border controls

Venezuela has suffered severe shortages for months as a result of the falling price of oil which is the country's prime source of income.

Many supermarket have empty shelves and Venezuelans spend days in queues to buy basic goods.

The opposition blames the government for the economic crisis, saying its policies have left businesses unable to import raw materials and essential parts.

The president of Congress, Henry Ramos Allup, said that President Maduro had ignored "the human sea" which had crossed the frontier searching for food.

Congresswoman Adriana Pichardo said "Venezuelans are looking for basic food that the government can't supply."

President Maduro has said his government is the victim of a economic war.

He ordered the border to be closed in August 2015 after former Colombian paramilitaries attacked a Venezuelan military patrol and wounded three soldiers.

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